Baker Family welcomes first generation Big Boss

  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY SCOUT BAKER From left is Casey, Logan, Chris and Scout Baker.
    PHOTO PROVIDED BY SCOUT BAKER From left is Casey, Logan, Chris and Scout Baker.

The Silver Spurs Riding Club is known for hosting dirt-flying, action-packed rodeos but the club’s foundation is much more than edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

Family values and volunteerism run deep within the Club’s history, which dates back to 1941. The Baker family, long time members of the Silver Spurs Riding Club (SSRC), welcomed their first-generation Big Boss and fourth-generation Silver Spurs Riding Club member in 2019, the 75th anniversary of the SSRC.

In 1912, Dale Elmyra Padgett (Logsdon) was born to Sarah Adelaide McQuagge Padgett and Felix Shelton “Bill” Padgett in Marianna, Fla. When Dale was 6-years old, her mother died during the flu epidemic, so Dale’s aunt, Annie Pledger, moved the family to Kissimmee. In 1938, Dale married Arthur Ellis “Art” Logsdon. Art was the president of the Lions Club and sold program books at the Silver Spurs Rodeo at Pinky Villa. Art and Dale became Silver Spurs Riding Club members in the first initiation after the founding members formed the club in the late 40s. Their daughter, Frances Jonnette “Joni”, recalled working in the northside concession stand (known as Connie Partin’s concession stand by members) as she grew up.

After moving to Kissimmee from Metter, Ga., Sydney Edwin “Pete” Baker won the bull riding event at the Silver Spurs Rodeo in the early 40s, when he was just 14 years old. He won $14 and believed he’d never see another poor day. Pete was an early member, 348th to be exact, of the Cowboys Turtle Association, now known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Pete married Matilda “Tillie” DiVirgilio and had three children; Ken, Bret, and Byllee Kay. Ken and Bret followed in their father’s footsteps and also became bull riders. During school, Ken rodeoed with families of the club and after graduation, he started volunteering.

Ken and Joni married in 1968, and became Silver Spurs Riding Club members in 1970. In 1971, they began to grow their family and welcomed four children; Christopher, Joey, Katie, and Jake Baker. While Joni worked in the concessions, the oldest son, Chris, began working alongside his dad behind the chutes and riding with the quadrille team. In 1994, Ken purchased practice bulls for sons, Jake and Joey, to ride in their home arena. Inevitably, the bulls busted out of their pens and into the pasture where the family raised beef cows. This caused crossbred calves; half rodeo and half beef genetics. Instead of sending them to the sale, they decided to try their hand in the bucking bull industry. In 1996, the Bakers, known as Rafter 3 Cattle, began donating stock to the Silver Spurs Riding Club.

Christopher married Casey Crowell Baker, a former Miss Silver Spurs, in 1996, and the two became Spurs members in 1997. Just months before initiation, they became parents to Scout, and welcomed Logan two years later. In 1998, Chris watched his little brother, Jake, win the bull riding event on No. 36, a bull of Doug Partin’s, a truly proud moment for this newly inducted club member. Although all of the siblings supported or remained involved with the Silver Spurs Riding Club in some fashion, it was Chris who excelled. After volunteering his time for 22 years on various committees such as signs, parking, and security, he was asked to serve on the rodeo committee where he also served as chairman. Chris was nominated and elected to the Board of Directors in 2013, and was later elected as the Big Boss of the Silver Spurs Riding Club in July 2019.

In December 2019, their oldest daughter, Scout, had the honor of becoming a fourth-generation member after volunteering in the concession stands, working behind the chutes with her dad and “Big Daddy” (Ken), and riding in the Silver Spurs quadrille team with her sister, Logan, who will also become a fourth-generation member at the next initiation.

Chris said, “one of the highlights of my year as Big Boss so far is presiding over the initiation where my daughter was nominated and approved by the club.”

After 20 years in the industry, a handful of Rafter 3 Cattle bulls have made a name for the Baker family, including 34 Orange Blossom Special and 155 RC, both infamous for bucking off world champion bull riders in their prime. Currently, 27 Baker Act is a Baker-raised bull of the Silver Spurs Riding Club. He was named in honor of the Bakers’ by PRCA official and Silver Spurs member Steve Knowles. For over 20 years, the Baker family has raised bulls in both Kissimmee and in Crockett, Texas, at Joey’s ranch before moving them to the Silver Spurs ranch in Kenansville.

From raising bulls to presiding over the Club as Big Boss, service to the community through the Silver Spurs Riding Club is simply a Baker family tradition.